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Erin & Ahman Dirks: Sustaining a Long-Term Movement

When Erin and Ahman Dirks became Monthly Sustainers at Oregon Food Bank 16 years ago they wanted to impact their local community and nurture a love of service in their young children. Erin explains:

“We felt strongly about being able to help families and communities that are right within our neighborhoods and within our state.”

Like all of us, the Dirks believe in a future where Oregon Food Bank is no longer needed because all our neighbors have access to abundant, nourishing food. As Monthly Sustainers, they are helping to build that future. Erin shares:

“We realized we were passionate about the importance of people having the food that they need and not living lives that require them to just be trying to meet their basic needs around things like food and shelter.”

The Dirks know that through their monthly gifts to Oregon Food Bank more people will have access to nourishing food.

Fifty-three percent of the food distributed in 2023 was distributed as fresh or frozen produce, dairy and protein. Oregon Food Bank’s work also supported 136 BIPOC farmers and native and tribal fishers. Their donations also fund programs like the Double Up Food Bucks, which allows SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) users to double their purchasing powers of produce. These activities continue to invest in underserved communities and increase access to culturally-specific food.

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As parents, Ahman and Erin prioritized fostering a passion for anti-hunger work in their children by leading a service group through their children’s school that volunteered at Oregon Food Bank.

Erin recalls, “They could participate, they could touch things, and there are a lot of other volunteer opportunities out there where kids just can't directly participate because of age requirements. And we thought it was really important for our kids to be able to be part of what we felt was an important way to benefit our community and be engaged in it directly.”

Ahman elaborates, “That moment of service is important… These are building blocks for later in the future to always carve out some time to do something of service because we're all kind of in this together, right? And so you have to see our community as just an extension of your family.”

As Monthly Sustainers, the Dirks know that Oregon Food Bank is using their monthly donation to make a sustained, year-round impact to keep food flowing and address the root causes of hunger in the long run. Erin shares:

“We knew that we could never make that same impact by just buying meals directly for people in need. Donating to an organization that is great stewards of their donors’ money and can make each dollar go so far for communities is really important to us.”

The Dirks also trust Oregon Food Bank as experts in hunger and support the advocacy efforts that are taken with their monthly donations.

Erin says, “With advocacy and public policy … we are helping to address the immediate need of people being hungry. But, the reasons why people don't have sustainable sources of income or, you know, stability for their family to be able to provide nutritious food, that's where I think the advocacy and the public policy work really comes in to help address the root causes.”

By being Monthly Sustainers, the Dirks sustain their commitment to ending hunger year-round, all through the convenience of automated giving which is one of the easiest ways to donate.

Erin says, “If people are considering becoming a Monthly Sustainer, they will know that every month they're making a difference in their community, a sustained positive difference for their neighbors, for their schoolmates.”

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